National and Alpha banks set out their merger plans

LONDON (Reuters) – Merging banks National and Alpha said yesterday they expected 220 million euros in one-off integration costs by 2005 as they pared personnel and restructured their combined branch networks. They said they targeted 200 million euros in cost savings and 85 million euros in annual additional revenue by 2005. Marinos Yiannopoulos, the executive general manager of Alpha Bank, said the banks expected to cut staff, despite expectations for robust growth in Greece’s financial services market, underdeveloped compared to its European Union peers. When we talk about reductions in absolute numbers in manpower, we are still going to be growing by leaps and bounds in Greece, Yiannopoulos told journalists at a London conference. In any way that you measure Greece, you can easily assume that financial services could increase by 50 percent without really approaching the lowest of the EU members, he said. Michael Massourakis, manager of Alpha’s economic research division, said the banks would cut 8 percent of net staff from their branch networks through restructuring, but that any need for further cuts would not be visible for some time. If there is a problem with overstaffing, this will become apparent further along in the future and not in the next four or five years, Massourakis said. Apostolos Tamvakakis, vice-chairman at National Bank, said the banks’ different customer bases made it unnecessary to close large branch numbers – defying the logic of many bank mergers, which seek to eliminate overlap. The merged bank, to be called National Bank of Greece, will have a market capitalization of about 10.2 billion euros based on the banks’ combined values. Detailing their one-off integration costs, the banks said they expected to incur 110 million euros in personnel expenses, 70 million euros in information technology, 30 million euros on rebranding and 10 million euros elsewhere.

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